- The Washington Times
Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Wizards’ rookie point guard John Wall must have experienced a flashback or two from getting bested by Warriors’ guard Stephen Curry during the All-Star game Skills Challenge, which Curry won, while Wall came in fourth.  

The schooling continued, as Curry led his Golden State Warriors to a 106-102 victory over the Washington Wizards on Wednesday night at the Verizon Center. Curry finished with 29 points, nine rebounds and five assists, while Wall had 14 points, with six assists.

The loss drops the Wizards to 15-45, while the Warriors improve to 27-33. It’s the seventh straight loss for Washington, and if they can take any comfort in coming up on the short end of the scoreboard once again, at least the Wizards put forth a furious late game comeback that brought them to within three points before the Warriors pulled out the win.  

“Tonight was a microcosm a little bit of what we’ve been falling into; the Chicago game, and some of the things we’re talked about leading into this game. We [faced] guys who can score in Curry and Ellis and we just deflated. There was about a four or five minute stretch there and all of a sudden you look up and you’re down 20 and we don’t react to what they’re doing,” said lead assistant coach Randy Wittman, who was filling in for head coach Flip Saunders. Saunders is in Cleveland with his mother, who is 90 and reported to be gravely ill.   

Despite the loss, Wittman took some positives away from the game, including the ever improving learning curve of John Wall.

“He’s getting his eyes opened. I don’t care if you’re the number one pick in the draft or the 17th pick in the draft or a rookie free agent. This league is different than anything you can imagine it to be. It’s a learning experience that John is going through but we see progress. There’s not an easy matchup in this league,” Wittman said.

Although Wall has had some tough matchups recently, he appears to be a quick study when it comes to sizing up the strength of his opponents.  

“[Derrick] Rose and [Stephan] Curry are two totally different players. Derrick is an explosive person that looks to take it to the basket. Steph is a sneaky, crafty player that can shoot it,” Wall said of his last two opponents at the point guard spot.  

“I think in the third quarter, there was a four or five minute stretch where they just took over the game and got up to a 20 point lead. That’s what really hurt us. We had a tough practice yesterday; they got us prepared for this game. We knew there was going to be a lot or did a lot of running, but we didn’t come out with any energy,” Wall said.  

Nick Young, who led all scorers with 31, started off strong in the first quarter, scoring 11 points, but then slowed down after tweaking his knee before making his own furious late game comeback, including a couple of good looks at the end that could have pulled out the game for the Wizards.  

“It kind of took me out of my rhythm a little bit. But Sam [assistant coach Cassell] told me ‘you can’t be hurt while you’re playing well.’ That’s the confidence coach [Wittman] has instilled in us all night. We fought hard, but we just came up short tonight.”

Young also admitted that the team’s thoughts are with Saunders.

“I know it’s hard for him. That’s his mom. That’s tough, so we wish him well. Hopefully he can take of everything he has to do out there and know that we are behind him. We are going to go out there and try to do our best.”

• Carla Peay can be reached at cpeay@washingtontimes.com.

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